PREVIEW: Ireland U20 Women prepare for semi-final showdown
August 09, 2019
The Ireland Under 20 women's team are heading into the biggest test of the year tomorrow (Saturday) as they face Bulgaria in the FIBA U20 Women’s European Championship Division B semi-final in Kosovo, at 3.30pm Irish time.
Ireland have had an interesting journey through the tournament to date, topping their group with wins over Ukraine and Great Britain, before going on to lose to Israel in the opening game of Round 2. This teed up a must-win clash against Croatia on Thursday evening, and the Irish women certainly delivered, winning out 66-53 in a thriller to top the Round 2 group and secure a semi-final showdown with Bulgaria.
Saturday's game is set to be a tough test for Ireland at both ends of the floor, as Bulgaria also come into the clash with just one loss under their belts - at the hands of their group winners, the unbeaten Finland. Ireland will certainly have a tricky test on their hands, with Bulgaria prone to playing quite a similar fast and aggressive style of basketball to Israel and are led by the shooting threat of Karina Konstantinova - who leads her team in efficiency and points - as well as their top rebounder, Yuliyana Valcheva.
The winner of tomorrow's game will not only contest the final on Sunday against the winner of Great Britain and Finland, but will also be guaranteed promotion to Division A basketball in 2020. The loser of the game meanwhile will advance to the bronze medal play-off, where a spot for promotion to Division A will still be up for grabs, with the top three from the tournament all earning promotion.
Looking ahead to the game, head coach Martin Conroy stated: “We’re so proud to be representing Ireland in a European semi final tomorrow afternoon. We know we have another tough assignment on our hands in Bulgaria, but we’re preparing the right way and are looking forward to the challenge. Like ourselves, Bulgaria are somewhat of a surprise package in this tournament, but they’ve shown that they are a very good team with some excellent players. We’ve shown though that we play great team basketball and if we can do this again at both ends of the floor, we will be hard to beat.”
Watch the game live here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YuhdD18IcbY
Ireland U20 Women’s Team Fixtures
All times are Irish times
Saturday, August 10th
Ireland v Bulgaria, 15.30